Government reveals plans to tackle air pollution

Pablo Tucker
January 17, 2019

Breathing dirty air is associated with a host of health problems, from asthma to cardiovascular disease and lung cancer, and all too often it is the most vulnerable - children, older people and those from poorer backgrounds - who are hit hardest. But the government is set to deploy rainmaking planes to seed clouds by dispersing chemicals into the air to aid condensation.

Reasons for the persistent smog include combustion exhaust from Bangkok's increasingly traffic-strewn roads, the burning of fields from farmers outside the city, and pollutants from factories after an explosion in construction projects funded by China.

As of Monday morning, the worldwide Air Quality Index's average ranking for the capital was 183, or "unhealthy", though some areas such as Saphan Khwai and Lat Yao as of 10am were ranked at "hazardous" levels of 370 and 403, respectively.

The environment group Greenpeace said Bangkok was now the 10th most polluted in the world, rivalling some cities in China.

The Pollution Control Department (PCD) was again working with other agencies to try and lower the PM2.5 level.

He said Bangkok's PM2.5 levels recently peaked at 102 microgrammes per cubic metre and on Monday was sitting under 90.

The PCD was also in talks with the Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation Department about creating rain over the urban area.

Ministers predict the strategy - which also includes plans to reduce ammonia emissions from farming - will cut the cost of air pollution to society by £1.7billion every year by 2020, rising to £5.3billion every year by 2030 through savings from public health benefits.

"No-one can tackle air pollution alone so it is a duty of Government to act for us all".

"We must take strong, urgent action". "We are not in the range of 120-150 where all people have to wear masks all the time when they are out".

In recent weeks, municipal workers have sprayed water on the roads and into the air in Bangkok to help clear the smog.

The Thaiger publishes national air quality readings daily. "Action to protect people's health must be a requirement, not a 'nice to have"'.

According to the World Health Organization, each year there are more deaths from air pollution than from Aids and malaria combined; the average deaths every year from these two diseases are around 2.36 million people, while deaths from all kinds of air pollution were as high as 6.3 million.

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